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Doctoral Student Awarded “Best Research Paper” for 2022 by Society of General Internal Medicine

Dr. Carlos Irwin A. Oronce, in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management, recognized for research into costs of Medicare Preventive Services

Monday, March 28, 2022

Dr. Carlos Irwin A. Oronce, a physician earning his doctorate at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, has received the Society of General Internal Medicine’s “Best Published Research Paper of the Year Award” for 2022 for his work on Medicare costs.

Oronce, who is in the UCLA Fielding School’s Department of Health Policy and Management and is a UCLA Department of Medicine fellow, will formally receive the award at the Society’s annual meeting, set for April 6-9 in Florida.

“I am truly honored to receive this recognition, and want to thank the Society, my mentors and collaborators for their policy expertise, methodological guidance, and input on the analysis,” said Oronce, who led a team of researchers from UCLA and the University of Michigan. “Our goal in this work was to try and identify spending on low-value preventive care that would share wide agreement on their lack of benefit for patients, and our finding that a small number of services comprise a significant amount of spending represents an important opportunity to safely lower U.S. healthcare spending while improving the quality of care.”

The research, published in the April edition of the society’s peer-reviewed Journal of General Internal Medicine, found as much as $477 million in healthcare spending from 2007-2016 that offered little or no net benefit to patients in specific scenarios.

The study examines the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) Grade D preventive services that are ordered in outpatient visits among Medicare patients. These are services that the USPSTF recommends against ordering because there are no benefits and expose patients to potential harms.

The research found three such services in particular - screening for asymptomatic bacteriuria, vitamin D supplements for fracture prevention, and colorectal cancer screening for adults over 85 years – that together cost Medicare more than $322 million.

“Dr. Oronce and his team identified opportunities to reduce health care spending on low value care and thus safely lower U.S. health care spending,” said Dr. Joann Elmore, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management and director of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program (NCSP), where Oronce trained as a post-doctoral research fellow. “The USPSTF ratings of services are considered extremely rigorous because they rely on randomized controlled trial evidence and advanced modeling methods. Dr. Oronce’s work is an excellent example of the caliber of research being done by investigators trained in the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program.”

Oronce has been at UCLA since 2019; he completed his undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of Virginia, and his MD and MPH at Tulane University in New Orleans. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Rochester (NY) Medical Center, and the NCSP at UCLA in 2021.